This article explains the believer's hope for the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. It shows that believers will be clothed with glory, immortality and honour.

Source: The Youth Messenger, 2013. 2 pages.

I Believe in the Resurrection of the Body and the Life Everlasting

The glorification of believers is an object of hope and a theme of rejoicing which we confess every Sunday in the Apostles' Creed: "I believe the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting." According to the Apostle Paul, life everlasting consists of three ingredients – glory, honour, and immortality – as he writes that God "will render ... to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life" (Rom 2:7).

Calvin confirms this point of view when he explains that glory, honour and immortality describe the blessedness of Christ's kingdom. Concerning Romans 2:7 Calvin writes,

When he (Paul) says, that the faithful, by continuing in good works, seek glory and honour, he does not mean that they aspire after anything else but the favor of God, or that they strive to attain anything higher, or more excellent: but they cannot seek him, without striving, at the same time, for the blessedness of his kingdom, the description of which is contained in the paraphrase given in these words. The meaning then is, – that the Lord will give eternal life to those who, by attention to good works, strive to attain (glory, honour and) immortality.taken from his commentary

But what is this glory that "by patient continuance in well doing (the believers) seek for"? In order to understand this concept, we will look at a specific aspect of the word glory. In the Old Testament the word glory is sometimes used in reference to extraordinary visible events by means of which the invisible God can be perceived by men. For example, think of the display of power shown at the giving of the Law, when "the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel" (Ex. 24:17). We can consider the divine cloud that filled the Tabernacle and the Temple at their inauguration.

Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.Ex. 40:33

The priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.2 Chr. 5:14

In Psalm 19:1 we are made aware of God's glory by the contemplation of His marvelous creation, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork."

Also in the New Testament that word glory can be used for an extraordinary vis­ible display of divine splendour and power. Con­sider the radiance that surrounded the shepherds when angels announced the birth of the Christ; "the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid" (Luke 2:9). Or consider the great earthquake of Revelation 11:13, on account of which "the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven." Consider also the heavenly temple "filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple" (Rev. 15:8).

With these visible tokens of the radiance of His Divine Being, the Lord impresses upon us that He is Worthy to receive all glory and honour and power. And such is the response of the believers, both here on earth, where we say, "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen" (Matt. 6:13), and in eternity, where the twenty four elders say,

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.Rev. 4:11

However, expanding on a theme present to some extent in the Old Testament, the New Testament makes clear that as the Lord is supremely glorified, He also desires that His friends should be glorified with Him. "And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matt. 19:28). In the same way in which the glory of the invisible God can be perceived by extraordinary visible events or displays of power or beauty, so the Lord delights to give His friends glory that is real, visible and prestigious.

From Romans 8, we glean that such glory was not promised exclusively to the twelve apostles, but it is the inheritance of all believers; "the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" (Rom 8:17). "Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." (Rom. 8:30)

Since, on account of sin, even believers on this side of eternity display little of that glory for which they were created, this glory is a future hope. For this reason the Apostle turns our gaze towards the future when he writes "that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18). "The glory which shall be revealed in us" will begin with the second coming of Christ, as it is written, "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory" (Col 3:4). Then our bodies will be glorified; "It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body" (1 Cor. 15:43-44). They will be changed to be like the glorious body of the resurrected Christ, "Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body" (Phil. 3:21).

It will also be then that our bodies will become immortal (Rom. 2:7), imperishable, powerful ("it is raised in power"), and above all they will be glorious so that "they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever" (Dan. 12:3). At that time our glorified souls will be holy and blameless, as signified by the white garment, a symbol of purity, that all believers shall enjoy, for: "white robes were given unto every one of them" (Rev. 6:11). Moreover, since God "made us unto our God kings and priests" (Rev. 5:10), "when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away" (1 Pet. 5:4); "the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him" (Jas. 1:12). In such highly elevated dignity, "We shall also reign with him" (2 Tim 2:12) and "we shall judge angels" (1 Cor. 6:3).

Finally, and most importantly, we shall behold the glory of the Lamb forever, as it is written, "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory" (John 17:24). Those whom the Father has given to Christ shall not be few or a select group. The friends of the Lamb will be "a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, (...) before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands" (Rev. 7:9). There shall not be denominations, labels, or anything to distinguish, divide or separate the believers, "That he might present (...) to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:27). And "there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Rev. 21:4).

This is but a small glimpse of the hope and joy which we have in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and which we confess with the words of the Apostles' Creed: "I believe the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. Amen."

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